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Reviews for The Left-Handed Hummingbird

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By:Matt Bennett, Cardiffq
Date:Thursday 25 August 2005
Rating:   10

This first offering from Kate Orman is a truly superior piece of work. The dialogue, plot, and prose are all spot on, and guide one easily though a story that could have been off-puttingly complicated in lesser hands. It's often been said that Orman's Doctor Who novels are built around the emotional response of the main characters to their situation, rather than merely detailing plot, and this is certainly true here. The Doctor in particular is put through the wringer. This is an astonishing book, and I can't priase it enough.

More Horror Novel Than Doctor Who

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 21 January 2024
Rating:   7

I really wanted to like this novel more than I do, especially after reading all the praise heaped on Kate Orman. However, I have problems. This novel occupies the middle of the "Alternate History" cycle of the New Adventures. Someone, somewhere is messing with time, and The Doctor is pursuing the clues. Apart from some mentions of this time meddling, of someone behind the scenes playing havoc with The Doctor's past, this novel takes the reader no farther toward finding who or what that is and what they want.

Spoilers ahead: The novel itself is basically a stand-alone story, no matter how many nods to the prior novels in the series Orman sticks in. And she does stick in many, and to even earlier New Adventures novels, and to many other Doctor Who stories. It is just packed full of knowing winks to die-hard fans. Even with all that, this novel is almost nothing like Doctor Who. The story, such as it is, is that an ancient Aztec named Huitzilin (Little Humming Bird, because, apparently, the Aztecs thought that humming birds were the souls of dead warriors), got a big dose of radiation from a crashed Exxilon space ship, which gave him huge psychic powers, mainly the ability to "eat" the "souls" of others. Huitzilin's body may be dead, but his soul-devouring spirit lives on in the form of The Blue, a force that takes over people's minds and turns them into killers before erasing them from history. He feeds on the psychic energy released by the dead. The Doctor takes magic mushrooms in an Aztec ritual and in his hallucinogenic state opens "the door" by which Huitzilin can return to life in corporeal form and reclaim an Exxilon weapon of immense power, and thus continue his soul eating ways in perpetuity. End spoilers.

That is the basic story of the novel. The plot involves mostly The Doctor trying to outmanuever Huitzilin, and failing every time. He takes along Ace and Benny, telling them very little of his plans and expecting them just to go along with it. He also involves a Mexican of Aztec descent named Christian Alvarez, who is particularly sensitive to The Blue. Through all of the novel, Christian is a pathetic, damaged, palpitating psychological wreck, so not the most interesting or forthcoming of characters. The action crosses several different years and locations. It is, all told, a violent, unremittingly downbeat story. It read more like a modern horror novel than a Doctor Who novel to me. It had the same idea of ancient evil trying to break through into the modern world, wreaking havoc and death, and being mostly incorporeal. Thus, it is more like Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show than it is like Doctor Who.

Orman is a better writer than the other writers in the New Adventures series up to this point. The one thing that got to me is that she is trying very hard to make this a "great" novel, and so does some things that seem to be the kinds of things that "great" novels do, such as suddenly changing perspective or writing style. However, it is never clear why she does so when she does so, just that it is something that "great" novels do.

It's a good first effort as a novel, and probably a fairly good horror novel for those that like horror novels. It's just not my cup of dark tea.

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